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Data for Social Good Case Study: VAMPIRE, Pulse Lab Jakarta

Author: Kendra Schreiner
Published Date: 12 July 2018

About. Global Pulse is the UN’s flagship innovation on data innovation for social good. Its mission is to accelerate discovery, development and scaled adoption of big data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action. This includes  promoting awareness of the opportunities big data presents, forging public-private data partnerships, generating analytical tools and approaches through its network of Pulse Labs, and driving adoption of innovations across the UN around the world.

Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ) combines data science and social research to help make sense of the interconnected, interdependent, and complex world. The Lab is a joint initiative of the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia, via United Nations Global Pulse and the Ministry of National Development and Planning (Bappenas) respectively. PLJ is closing information gaps in the development and humanitarian sectors through the adoption of Big Data, real-time analytics and artificial intelligence.

Development of VAMPIRE. Responding to the challenges which the 2015 El Niño-induced drought placed on Indonesian communities, PLJ partnered with the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation to develop a tool to provide near real-time analysis on the impact, known as VAMPIRE (Vulnerability Analysis Monitoring Platform for Impact of Regional Events). The tool provides map-based visualisations of climate hazards to show the extent of drought affected areas, impact on agriculture, and communities at risk. VAMPIRE identifies priority areas directly or indirectly affected by the impacts of El Niño and other climate anomalies to better direct assistance.

Other Partners. The tool is embedded into the situation room of the Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Indonesia.

The VAMPIRE project  is funded through contributions from the Governments of Australia and Germany.

Role of Philanthropy. PLJ has many 'data philanthropy' partners who donate their data. Partners have included OLX Indonesia, Twitter, and PT Jasa Marga (Indonesia Highway Corp.), who all shared selected anonymised datasets for PLJ to research.

Context and  challenges faced:

  • Several rural communities were still vulnerable to food insecurity in 2015.
  • Bringing together data on rainfall anomalies and food security was slow and not in real-time, hampering its usefulness for interventions.
  • Due to climate change, extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common in Asia.

The Data. Vampire utilises several sources of data, including population, household food security, rainfall anomaly, national socio-economic, standardised precipitation, and vegetation health. The multi-tier tool fuses several databases into three layers:

1) Baseline layer - shows the percentage and distribution of poor, agriculture-dependent populations and the communities at risk of food insecurity.

2) Climate layer - presents the rainfall quantity in a period compared to long-term averages at that time of year, as well as information on vegetation health to understand the extent of agricultural drought.

3) Impact layer - displays correlations between the Climate and Baseline layers and identifies priority areas for support programmes based on vulnerability.

Future developments in the pipeline include adding insights from mobile phone data to provide additional information on the displacement of communities affected by climate events. Also closing the information loop, by issuing text message alerts to notify potentially affected populations of risks is a priority.

Impact and Scale. The Government of Indonesia has used VAMPIRE to measure drought impact and identify fire risks in vulnerable communities. It has also developed the platform further within its systems to estimate the impact of past government programmes as part of their regular monitoring and oversight.

In addition to drought, flood impact analysis has been added; floods can now be estimated six days in advance, including the risk to crops and populations.

Following success in Indonesia, the platform scaled up to Sri Lanka - called PRISM (Platform for Real-time Information Situation Monitoring) and is being used by the Ministry of Disaster Management. This was more than just a transfer of tech, but a contextualisation of the tool to the specific context, adding several improvements. WFP and PLJ is also in talks with the Government and UN Country Team in Papua New Guinea to establish a version there and are in the process of making the tool open source to enable uptake elsewhere.

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This case study is part of a larger project on the role of philanthropy in using data to solve complex problems. A global scan highlights many initiatives using data for good, the main methods, how philanthropy is engaging, and the challenges faced. 

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For questions or comments, contact Jordan.Junge@socialinnovationexchange.org